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Dubstep meets Arabian and Persian music

January 21, 2009

Remembering Machine

My band, Secret Archives of the Vatican mix a whole range of musical influences to create something we call Transglobal Breakbeat Dub Science. It’s probably a meaningless phrase but it is an attempt to stop us being tagged with a crappy record industry marketing tag like ‘world music’. Anyway – recently we’ve been listening to a great deal of dubstep and glitchy electronica and have been absorbing some of that that into our global mashup. However, we wanted to keep some of our own distinctive flavour in the electronica mix.

We’ve been having fun so I thought I’d comment on a few interesting things we’ve heard and also talk about some of the writing and production techniques we’ve been using lately.

Our new, about-to-be-released, album is called Remembering Machine. The title track is a fairly straightforward, funky dubstep tune at 140 bpm. You can hear it here:

or on our MySpace page here:

The slow drum groove is a programmed drum pattern but it is rooted in an ancient Arabic drum pattern.  I won’t tell you which pattern but if you check out this website, it’s hidden in there somewhere:

Kamuran’s Guide for Doumbek Players

The doumbek (also known as a darabuka) is a goblet-shaped drum from the Middle-East.  Rhythm patterns are taught vocally – bassy notes from the middle of the drum skin are called dum and high notes from nearer the edge are called tak. Some people use the word ka to mean the edge note from the other hand. Hence a pattern can be taught verbally: dum tak tak dum tak is a very common drum groove, for example.

These patterns are tried and tested dance grooves so it makes sense to apply them to drum kit or sampler.  I replace dums with the kick drum, taks with the snare and ka hits with another sound. Then, programme up some hats with some syncopation and you have a wicked funky-arse dance groove in most cases. You’ll see that there’s a lot of scope for variations and, of course, this is just a kicking off point for your own ideas. Play with different sounds.  Delete beats, add beats.  Layer a programmed drum groove like this with a breakbeat from a record or sample library.  Use a different set of samples at a different tempo, add a few variations and you can re-use the same groove for several tracks.

We’ve been using non-Western instruments in our tunes for years and I’m starting to hear them in some dubstep tunes by well known artists, which is great! One great example is a tune called Kemancheh by Moving Ninja. You can hear it here (although they’ve put some noises over the top in places to stop illegal downloads – but it’s well worth buying anyway) :

It’s using a Persian bowed instrument called a Kemancheh, hence the cunning title.  Beautiful and atmospheric. There is also a hand drum of some kind, probably a tombak (Persian version of Arabic doumbek).

Another dubstep act who make great music, in this case using samples from the world of Indian music and Bollywood, are Dusk & Blackdown. They also throw in some Far Eastern samples. Check them out here:

Tracks to listen to are: Rolling Raj Deep (named after an Indian owned shop in Tooting, South London, apparently) and The Drumz of Nagano (which features Far Eastern sounds).

You can also check out our new tunes from our forthcoming release, Remembering Machine, on Last FM here:

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2009 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the link, Vince.


  2. November 14, 2011 9:21 am

    Currently, the best place to hear Secret Archives of the Vatican’s own music is here:

  3. January 16, 2013 10:55 am

    Thanks for sharing the good tips about Persian music. i like your article. i suggest to other visit again in this blog. Great !


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